Recently, in the Octave of Easter, Pope Francis encourages us to take to heart the Risen Lord’s reassuring words, “Do not be afraid”, and to share the joy of Easter as witnesses to the truth sets us free.
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on a brilliant Spring morning the day after Easter ahead of the recitation of the Regina Coeli. The Pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, which recounts when the Risen Jesus appeared to the women who went to his tomb, saying two things to them that we too can take to heart.
Do not be afraid
The Pope explained that the Risen Lord first reassured the women by saying “Do not be afraid.” Those comforting words, said the Pope, recognize how fear can paralyze us all – whether of death, dying, sickness or life’s tribulations.
And who better than Jesus who conquered death can tell us convincingly not to be afraid, the Pope pointed out, saying the Lord “invites us to come out of the tomb of our fears,” knowing full well how fear always lurks at the door of the heart, but also letting us know that He experienced and overcame death and accompanies us forever. The Pope underscored, “fear not” and “come out of the tombs of our fears, since our fears are like tombs, they bury us.”
Go and tell others
Jesus then told the women at the tomb to “Go and tell my brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” Pope Francis said we are also invited to “go and tell” others this Good News – to break loose of the fear that can surround us – and go forth and tell others about the overwhelming joy of the Lord’s resurrection and hope for all of us.
The Pope observed that we may think this requires special skills or abilities, but just like the women in the Gospel account, we should hear the Lord’s invitation, let go of any doubts, and go forth and proclaim the joy that cannot be kept to onself and multiplies when sharing it. “If we open ourselves and carry the Gospel, our hearts will open and overcome fear.”
The Pope warned that falsehoods can be encountered and present obstacles to proclaiming and sharing the Gospel. He recalled how the soldiers in the Gospel account accepted money to testify falsely that the Lord had not risen, but that His body was stolen from the tomb, making a type of “counter-proclamation.” The Pope warned how the power of money and adoration of it here goes against the Gospel. And this concealment or opposition to the truth presents a challenge we too can face, he added, saying it leads back to the tomb, whereas Jesus wants us to come out of our tombs of falsehood and dependency.
Sometimes today we might be scandalized by lies uncovered about people or society, Pope Francis observed, but he said we must look inside ourselves also and name our own falsehoods we harbour and allow the light of the Risen Jesus to dispel this darkness in our hearts.
The Lord wishes for us to be “transparent and luminous witnesses to the joy of the Gospel”, and “the truth that will make you free.” Pope Francis concluded by asking that the Blessed Mother “help us overcome our fears and give us passion for the truth.”